Saturday, February 25, 2012

Onehunga does it again--another great cafe-CAFETRAN

Yes, another great café on Onehunga main street. We are quite spoilt for choice in this lovely old suburb. Did you know that in the early days (especially at the time of the ‘Land Wars.’) Onehunga rivalled the Port of Auckland, mainly because it was closer to Australia, in a direct line from the Manukau Heads. Therein we can see the reason for its gradual demise as the ‘premier port.’ The Manukau Bar and its treacherous, shifting channels claimed many ships and hundreds of lives; the Orpheus wreck being the most notorious.
Despite this tragic history, Onehunga has undergone something of a revival in recent years. Yes, there were various attempts to draw in the shoppers; perhaps the one that most of us remember as a dismal failure was the partially covered ‘mall’ experience. I don’t know why it didn’t work, but it just felt seedy and the shops gradually left the main street.
When the giant Dressmart arrived, even more shops left, leaving the main drag to be filled with numerous Two Dollar shops. Thankfully, things have changed. Queen Street and the newer complex seem to have worked out a comfortable balance and they now merge gracefully at the fringes. The cafes that have sprung up in the last five years and the resurrection of the rail service all add up to a really buzzy feeling. I look forward to seeing how new ventures and the return of some mainstream shops works out.
Now---- to my visit to one of the newer cafes. It is always a difficult decision, trying to choose which café to have breakfast or brunch. (I wonder if you are noticing the dubious link between this blog and my ‘Fat Bugger’ series). We have been to CafeTran before, so I thought in light of the fact that I have blogged one of the others, it’s only fair that I start blogging some of the others.  (I will get to them all eventually).
CafeTran is on the right hand side of Queen Street, going towards the bridge at the far end of the mall. Parking is OK, it is even possible to park quite near, or go for the car parks in the back streets.
The staff made us feel welcome as we picked up the menu. We didn’t need it, because two choices almost sprang out at us from the blackboard menu. We ordered immediately but then struck a problem--- the Electronic Transfer Machine, wasn’t working. I had cash (unusual for me) but there were two banks within twenty or so metres, so it shouldn’t have been a problem, judging by the few empty tables (both in an out) it had not stopped others from finding a solution either).
WE didn’t have to wait long for our meals and the coffees arrived even sooner. I must say that the waiter ‘played’ with us by saying to my sister, ‘Here is your bunny.’ I was confused (surprise surprise). I looked dumbly at my sister. Her face broke out into a smile. My coffee wasn’t a bunny—it was a teddy bear. Check out the picture and you will see what I mean.
I was halfway through my ‘teddy bear,’ when my food arrived. I had ordered fish and chips with a salad. Forget about the normal fare one might expect from a café. It was beautifully presented. The generous, single piece of fish was placed artfully upon just the right amount of chips that I can only describe as being way above the soggy versions one can experience elsewhere. The salad that accompanied the dish contained a range of fresh-looking (no brown edges on this salad) leaves, with a very light dressing. Two little dishes of sauce and mayonnaise completed the presentation. I had the distinct feeling that I needed to ignore the ‘guilt-trip’ that so often goes along with the above dish.
My sister had order an ‘Asian Omelette. She sent back the toast (we had forgotten to tell them that she could only eat Gluten-free bread) and cut into the omelette. It was packed full of deliscio0us offerings, including, coriander, spring onions, peppers and a little chilli. She was more than satisfied with the omission of the toast.
Overall, we were very satisfied with the food. It is a noisy and busy café, so don’t go there if you want a quiet conversation, but then why would you go to an empty café--- what does that tell you?
Well done CafeTran. It will be hard walking past you to the other great cafes in Onehunga.

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